Classic cars tend to fall into three categories: 1. Original, un-restored condition - exhibiting well cared for, but used patina. 2. Perfectly restored, thoroughbred machinery. 3. Something in between 1 & 2.
If a car is truly a "1", then it is critical to correctly maintain, preserve and upkeep the car, ensuring it continues down its path of graceful aging - for as long as possible - hopefully indefinitely. Remember, once this wonderful patina is lost, it can never be regained. Unfortunately, it is important to understand that no matter how vehemently someone tries to convince you that a car is "original", if it has a fresh coat of paint on it, it isn't. Even more unfortunate, is that in most instances, that fresh coat of paint was applied because the car was rusty, in poor condition and/or the owner did a quick makeover for resale. Be careful! We have helped maintain and service many of these original condition cars over the years. An experienced, thoughtful approach is required to know what needs to be fixed, replaced, cleaned or serviced and what needs to be left alone - to ensure that coveted “originality” remains “original”.
If a car falls under the "2" umbrella, it should be serviced, maintained and cared for - which should include regular use...remember cars are machinery, and machinery needs to operate in order to work properly! Shows, tours, rallies and weekend drives - any and all of the things that make this hobby so rich. If you balk at the thought of driving your perfect restoration, consider this - Pebble Beach Concours - the place where the rarest, most coveted cars on earth are displayed - reward the cars that go on the tour the day before the show! Our approach to supporting these types of cars is comprehensive - from regular service schedules to exercising our Clients cars if they can’t. Keeping records of fluid changes, conditioning leather, rotating tires and performing any/all necessary procedures to ensure a top restored car, remains a top restored car, are all part of the service we provide to our Clients for these types of vehicles.
It is in this “grey” area where most cars lie - and is where, unfortunately, the toughest decisions must be made. It is important to understand that doing a series of "partial restorations" is not the same, nor will it net the same end result as starting out down the path of a full restoration. Bringing a car through a complete restoration is an interrelated, well thought out process. Since all cars have "layers", it is difficult when doing partial projects to not overlap and in some instance degrade the efforts of a previous step. By moving forward as a complete restoration, these "project traps" can be alleviated - procedures and steps have been refined through experience so that no one procedure "steps on the toes" of another.
If restoration doesn't fit your goals - rather maintenance and repair - you must be prepared for the inevitable gremlins. Old cars break, and although you might have fixed the wiring, it doesn't mean that the charging system, or the gauges or the switches will work perfectly. It is critical to understand that mechanics don't have emotions - when it is their time to "give up the ghost" it is time (regardless of how much money you just spent on other areas of your car!).
Another important factor to understand with partial or repair work is that mechanics tend to wear out together, in harmony. Meaning, if you have your engine rebuilt, your well worn car now has all new "get-up-and-go" - putting all sorts of new stress and torque on parts that were perfectly happy without this power. Don't be surprised if brakes start to fail, transmissions start to slip, rear ends start to whine, etc. We are prepared and happy to help you determine which path to take - given your car, your expectations and your budget.